The world at her feet – Terri Harper comes of age with stunning title triumph
If anyone was not convinced of Terri Harper’s potential before, they really ought to be now.
The Denaby Main fighter earned a stoppage win in by far her toughest test to date to become the new WBC International lightweight champion last weekend at Barnsley Metrodome.
That it came in only her sixth fight, after years away from the amateur ranks, says plenty about where the 22-year-old is now and where she might be in the future.
The victory saw her climb to ninth in the world rankings and second in the UK behind the highly-rated Chantelle Cameron. And this was a fighter expected only to learn in her first dozen or so contests.
Over ten, hard fought rounds against Newark’s Nina Bradley, she managed to show both inexperience and then remarkable maturity, while also showcasing her impressive skill and power.
Harper had success from the start, downing Bradley with a devastating right hand. Bradley – nine years her opponent’s senior – survived but endured the same treatment in the second round and again managed to fight on.
Harper piled on the pressure in the remainder of the second round and into the third, chasing the stoppage and expelling plenty of energy in the process.
It was hard not to think the two early knockdowns may have been the worst thing that could have happened to her as she looked increasingly tired.
But, while Bradley’s attempts to slow the pace and make the clash more rough and tumble ensured it was much more competitive, it helped Harper catch her breath and settle down.
She began to stay more at distance, working off the jab and preventing Bradley from imposing herself on the contest.
And she showed she was listening to her corner, taking a more reserved approach while staying dominant, preventing herself from gassing. At one stage she could easily have stepped up her assault on Bradley but instead backed off and went back behind the jab.
When fought at close quarters, Harper fired in shots to the body, helping her remain ahead and on top throughout an entertaining clash the stole the show – somewhat fittingly on International Women’s Day.
Just when it seemed as though the fight was heading to the scorecards, Harper landed another big right hand in the tenth round which buckled Bradley’s legs.
Referee Mark Lyson, with Bradley well behind on the scores, stepped in and waved the fight off.
Harper celebrated wildly with her huge support, adding a first professional title to her status as South Yorkshire’s first female pro boxer.
What comes next will be a test of manager Stefy Bull’s determination to take things slow with young and inexperienced Harper.
But right now it is clear the world is at her feet.
n Elsewhere on the Barnsley bill, Doncaster's Jimmy Joe Flint showcased his class and skill to comfortably out-point Michael Isaac Carrero.
Utilising an impressive array of shots, he controlled the tempo of the contest and enjoyed plenty of success against an opponent keen only to survive.
Flint extended his unbeaten record to five fights and showed why he is indeed being backed for a bright future.